Athletes in line for HK$20 million boost
A special HK$20 million fund will be distributed to sports to help them achieve a gold-medal standard at next year's East Asian Games in Hong Kong.
Twenty-three sports, including two demonstration events, will make up the first-ever regional multi-sport games in Hong Kong next December.
'The figure has not been finalised yet as there is still a lot of discussion regarding individual sports for the Games,' said a source close to the East Asian Games Company. 'But we hope the monetary support can help our sportsmen achieve success in a major games on home soil for the first time.'
It is believed the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) will apply for a share of the funding on behalf of its nine elite sports which will be featured in the 2009 Games, while the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will take care of the non-elite sports.
The funding will come from the government's Arts and Sport Development Fund.
An official from the Home Affairs Bureau, which monitors the fund, said it was prepared to provide the support to strengthen Hong Kong's hopes, but was awaiting more details from the two organisations.
'We hope a detailed support plan can be worked out as soon as possible so we can start providing extra funding specially targeted for the 2009 Games,' the official said.
Tony Choi Yuk-kwan, head squash coach at the HKSI, said the sport would need a training fund of over HK$1 million if it was to do well next year.
'Unlike the Asian Games, there are seven disciplines in squash in the 2009 Games,' said Choi. 'We have expanded our elite squad to accommodate more than 30 athletes, and our training expenditure and other expenses, such as food and accommodation, have been expanded accordingly.
'We are happy to know the government has set aside the training budget for the Games, but also hope the support can be realised sooner rather than later, and hopefully the funding can come before July so we can have ample time for our preparations.'
Only men's and women's singles were held in previous Asian Games, but the 2009 event has been boosted to seven disciplines, including men's and women's teams, doubles and mixed doubles.
Basketball, a non-elite sport, also wants to secure the support in order to strengthen its medal hopes.
'We have already set up a training squad for the Games under existing funding,' said Sam Ho Wai-hing, senior sports executive of the association.
Price of gold
Squash will have seven events for the 2009 East Asian Games
Coach Tony Choi says his squad needs this amount, in HK$, to properly prepare for the Games in Hong Kong: 1m